Hello, my name is Holly Price and tonight I am going to be taking you through the Formula 1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix sprint qualifying. Tonight’s 24 laps race is one that has been surrounded by controversy as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen both were summoned to the stewards today, so this is one highly anticipated race.
All times are local to Sao Paulo, Brazil
15:40 50 minutes before the start of the race
The post penalties grid formation has been released
This is not just any line-up this is one that could be detrimental to Hamilton and Mercedes championship winning hopes, after he has been sent to the back of the grid following a costly error by Mercedes. Hamilton’s car did not pass the scrutineering technical checks that were undertaken by the race stewards after his Drag Reduction System seemed to be larger than the 85mm that it is allowed to be. This led to almost a day of confusion and suspense but finally the FIA deemed Mercedes mistake worthy of disqualification from qualifying, which is what set tonight’s grid.
Hamilton will be trying to do everything in his power to move up the grid in this sprint race so that he can start in a higher place for the actual race, but with his five place grid penalty for having a new ICE also coming in to play for tomorrows Grand Prix things do not look promising for the Brit.
Here is a bit more of an explanation on what has been going on today.
16:00 – The pit lane is open
As we see the cars slowly make their way around the track we are reminded that it is not only the two championship protagonists involved in this race but also 18 other drivers. Four cars and drivers to keep your eye on are the Ferrari and McLaren pairings as they battle for 3rd in the constructors championship. Even though their battle is not filled with as much drama and controversy as Hamilton and Verstappen’s is it is definitely one that deserves a watch due to the fact that all four drivers are so closely matched.
16:08 – build-up on the grid
We are now listening to Nicholas Latifi and Fernando Alonso talk about their qualifying performances yesterday and what they might expect from this race. Latifi (who doesn’t sound the most optimistic) pulled out what many people would call the best lap of his F1 career so far yesterday, after he managed to out qualify his teammate George Russell for the first time in a non sprint race qualifying event. Even if he did not think it was the best lap of his F1 career so far it was definitely a lap to be proud of.
16:15 – 15 minutes to go
Soon we will be seeing the first race start on the Interlagos circuit since 2019 and it seems that every team is just hoping for no major disasters that could impact their race tomorrow.
This is the final sprint qualifying of 2021 so hopefully it will be an action packed event that will leave us looking forward to the race tomorrow.
16:29 – tyre update/formation lap
Mercedes have gone aggressive with Valtteri Bottas’ strategy as he is starting on the soft tyre. Verstappen and Red Bull haven’t gone as aggressive with car number 33 starting on the medium tyres.
19:32 RACE START!
BOTTAS IS AWAY AND INTO THE LEAD!
the soft tyres were great at getting off of the line as Carlos Sainz has also made his way up and into second place after starting on the same compound. Mercedes will be delighted with that start.
We now see that Verstappen is back ahead of the Ferrari and now chasing down the Mercedes of Bottas in front of him
Hamilton is up into 12th after he has been picking off each driver ahead of him one by one, he now has Fernando Alonso ahead of him.
Verstappen may have managed to get past the Ferrari of Sainz, his teammate Sergio Perez on the other hand has not been so lucky although he is starting to put the Ferrari driver under some pressure.
A crucial move for Hamilton as he manages to pass the Alpine of Alonso for 11th. The other Alpine of Esteban Ocon is sitting nicely in eighth position which will do him and Alpine good in their battle against AlphaTauri for fifth in the championship, after Ocon started in tenth.
Mclaren have had a mixed race so far as we have seen Lando Norris making moves on the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, but his teammate Daniel Ricciardo has not been able to the make same moves as he has dropped down to tenth after starting in eighth and is now stuck in a DRS train.
This DRS train has stalled Hamilton’s progress as he is still stuck in 11th place with only half of the race to go.
Verstappen now has DRS on Bottas, are his tyres starting to drop off or is this just Mercedes race pace not matching up to Red Bull’s?
After being stuck behind Ricciardo for a little while Hamilton has now stormed through the DRS train and is now right behind Pierre Gasly… and now ahead of Gasly.
Bottas and Verstappen are now 16 seconds ahead of P3 man Sainz, they really are in a race of their own.
Lap 20 5 laps to go
Perez had everybody holding their breath as it looked like he was about to send a dive bomb up the inside of Sainz into turn one looking to reclaim the third place that he lost at the start, however, he was unsuccessful and Sainz stays in third.
I may not have been talking about Hamilton much these past few laps but that is because he is doing too much to keep up with! He is now in sixth place after making it look easy to get past Leclerc. This is one impressive drive from the seven time world champion.
Everybody is managing to hold station as it looks like a few of the drivers like Verstappen, Perez and Hamilton might be looking for a last lap overtake.
Lap 24 Final lap
Hamilton has managed to pull off that last lap overtake as he just about manages to slow the car down into turn one and get past Norris.
No matter how good everybody else has driven though it is BOTTAS WHO GETS TO THE CHEQURED FLAG FIRST AND WILL START TOMORROW’S GRAND PRIX ON POLE POSITION.
Well, what an eventful race and one that I’m sure leaves the whole of Mercedes with a smile on their face after the disappointment they were left feeling earlier today. All is not over though as we still have the full 71 laps to watch tomorrow which I’m sure will be just as thrilling as these 24 laps were.
So, it is a Mercedes on pole, a Red Bull in P2, and Ferrari in P3. Lewis Hamilton will be starting in 10th after his five place grid penalty is applied and will be looking to make moves up the grid just like he did today. Thank you for joining me this evening for this exhilarating sprint qualifying and I hope you enjoyed it.
For the liveblog of qualifying click here.
For more Formula One content click here.
For more sports content click here.